Q fever in the Northwest

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Q fever caused by Coxiella burnetii has reared its head again, this time on goat farms in Washington and Montana.

To date, 20 of serologically tested persons met the outbreak case definition of a person epidemiologically linked to at least one farm of interest (i.e., as a goat owner, farm visitor, or neighbor) since January 2011. No deaths were reported; four of the 20 persons were hospitalized, and five were asymptomatic.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that goats sold after June 2010 by a Washington farm where C. burnettii initially was detected were traced to 21 farms in Washington,  Montana and Oregon. Seventeen farms participated in the outbreak investigation. C. burnetii infection was detected in 16 of 17 goat herds that participated in teh outbreak investigation, including PCR confirmation of bacterial shedding in feces, vaginal mucous, or milk in 161 of 667 (24%) goats tested and an overall seroprevalence of 21% (131 of 615) by ELISA. To date, 19% (20 of 108; 11 in Washington and nine in Montana) of serologically tested persons met the outbreak case definition of a person epidemiologically linked to at least one farm of interest (i.e., as a goat owner, farm visitor, or neighbor) since January 2011.

Q fever (a category B bioterrorism agent) is a nationally notifiable disease in humans and is endemic throughout the United States with a national seroprevalence of 3%. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary Q fever reservoirs.

Find out more about Q fever here.

Read the article from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report here.



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